It's been a few months since the release of Muramasa Rebirth, and I've long since finished the game, short of acquiring some of the more elusive trophies. But I'm always eager to dive back in for some quick hack-n-slash action. With the promise of downloadable content on the horizon I knew it was only a matter of time before I'd be back in rural Japan. With the first of the Genroku Legends DLC pack, Fishy Tales of the Nekomata, players will get to experience a side story that helps flesh out the Muramasa universe and introduce players to a new cast of characters who are in some way caught up in the "Pandemonium of the Demon Blade."
Starting up Muramasa Rebirth, you'll find a new option available to you, allowing you to either play Muramasa Rebirth or the Genroku Legends, four new side stories with new characters, new enemies, and new story lines that involve some of Japan's legendary monsters. In Fishy Tales of the Nekomata we're presented with the tails – I mean tales – of brother and sister, Seijirou and Okoi, tasked with traveling to Edo to deliver an important parcel to the shogun, for the honor of their family. Unfortunately they've been followed by a rival clan, who mean to rob and dispose of them, right before the eyes of their precious pet cat, Miike. On her deathbed, Okoi wishes to make a deal with the demons and devils, to exact revenge upon those who wronged her, turning her into a nekomata, a shape-shifting demon that will lay waste to everyone who sought to do harm to her family. This little DLC nugget has a rather short story that can be completed in around four hours, and features two new boss fights. Beyond that this DLC allows players to go through all of the bosses from the main Muramasa Rebirth campaign which is required to see the second ending. When all was said and done, I have spent about 10 hours total in tackling all of the Caves of Evil and boss fights from the main game.
Playing as Okoi, you're given a new set of skills to go along with the standard hack-n-slash gameplay that this game is known for. Okoi in her nekomata form can quickly move around the screen and plays closely to the same style as Kisuke or Momohime. Her secondary form, as the cat Miike, gives her a variety of ranged attacks that fill the screen with fireballs or a flurry of cats. Her final form, the Avatar, has two different forms depending on which form you are using when you switch to the Avatar. As Okoi, you'll become a giant demon cat with a powerful horizontal swipe attack, or a rolling attack that can hit multiple enemies at once but is difficult to control. Miike's Avatar form turns her in to a giant cat head that is made up of a collection of calico cats that can spit our massive fireballs and spin like a small tornado to hit enemies multiple times. This offers a little bit more variety than what the main game offers, which makes this little DLC pack feel different enough to warrant a purchase.
The quality of the visuals alone makes this game worth the five-dollar price tag. It's pretty impressive to see what developer Vanillaware is capable of when it comes to their art design and animation. Seeing Miike's Avatar form is especially inspiring, while one of the bosses you'll be facing is particularly disturbing. You thought Mario in a tanuki suit was weird? Wait until you actually fight a tanuki and see what they're legendary for beyond shape-shifting.
As the first of four DLC packages, Fishy Tales of the Nekomata is a great opening gambit and is quite worth the price tag. It has a fair amount of depth, offers a compelling story, and has some decently challenging boss fights to go along with the shake-up in gameplay that Okoi and Miike provide. If you've already played through the main story, feel free to make this the reason you go back to Muramasa Rebirth.
In a past life I worked with Interplay, EA, Harmonix, Konami, and a number of other developers. Now I'm working for a record label, a small arm of casual games in a media company along with Gaming Nexus, and anywhere else that sees fit to employ me.